I’m so delighted to be one of the authors and illustrators included in this wonderful collection – The Book of Hopes, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books and available free to download from the National Literacy Trust. Containing stories, poems and illustrations to make you feel hopeful and joyful, it’s the brainchild of amazing author Katherine Rundell, and includes an incredible line-up of contributors.
My contribution ‘The Green Road’ is inspired by the walk I do every morning, which never fails to make me feel more hopeful.
This week, I was delighted to be one of the children’s authors taking part in Waterstones #GoldenTime. Visit the @Waterstones Twitter account for videos with different children’s writers or illustrators each day. Here I am reading from Peril inParis .
Check out this new video as part of Egmont’s #14Stories14Days initiative – a short reading from Spies in St Petersburg. Follow @EgmontUK on Twitter or check out the 14 Stories 14 Days website for lots more book-related content, activities and resources
Mystery & History masterclass – on the Authorfy website you’ll find a masterclass for Peril in Paris, ideal for Key Stage 2 (age 7-11) and a masterclass for Rose’s Dress of Dreams for Key Stage 1 (age 5-7). Each masterclass includes videos, extracts and a detailed scheme of work.
Listen to a podcast about children’s books – listen to my podcast Down the Rabbit Hole which is all about children’s books. There are 70 episodes in our archive featuring authors, illustrators and children’s experts, with new episodes each month – you can also find us on Apple Podcasts.
… And don’t forget – if you fancy something cheerful to read, you can download my new Taylor & Rose mini adventure Secrets on the Shore as an e-book. It’s only £1.99 – links to buy here.
You can also of course download the wonderful Book of Hopes for free which includes stories, poems and illustrations by a whole host of children’s authors and illustrators – including me!
I’ll keep this page updated with any new resources: you can also check out the page on my website here.
Do be sure to check out all your favourite authors and illustrators for lots more book related content – there’s so much fantastic stuff out there at the moment. Look for the hashtag #BooksUnited on Twitter as a starting point.
This month has seen the publication of the first ever Taylor & Rose mini adventure, Secrets on the Shore. Set in the town of Rye, it tells the story of Sophie and Lil’s first case for the Secret Service Bureau, which features smugglers’ secret passages, mysterious sea-mists, and sinister strangers…
I wanted to write a little something about what inspired me to set this story in Rye, which is a real town in the South of England. Rye is a place that I first encountered it in the pages of some of my favourite children’s books – in particular, Malcolm Saville’s Lone Pine series, which I’ve talked about here before. Written between the 1940s and the 1970s, Saville’s adventure stories are no longer very well-known today and are mostly out of print – but I devoured second-hand copies of them as a child, poring over the maps that always accompanied each book Although I’d never been there myself, I particularly loved Saville’s stories set in Rye. These featured two of my favourite members of the Lone Pine Club, Jon and Penny Warrender, who lived at The Dolphin, a mysterious old inn full of secret passages, hidden rooms, and old smugglers’ tales.
I didn’t get to visit Rye myself until I was grown up, but when I did, I immediately recognised its narrow cobbled streets and the black-and-white façade of The Mermaid Inn (the inn where Saville used to stay, which inspired The Dolphin). The steep, crooked streets of the little town and the wild, windswept marshes and shoreline feel like classic children’s adventure story territory: it’s no wonder that Rye and the Romney Marsh have inspired not only Malcolm Saville, but also Enid Blyton (whose Five Go to Smuggler’s Top is supposed to have been based on this area) Monica Edwards (whose fictional village of Westling was modelled on Rye Harbour) and even John Ryan, the creator of Captain Pugwash.Another of my favourite children’s authors, Joan Aiken, lived in the town – whose residents have also included authors like Henry James, Joseph Conrad, HG Wells, GK Chesterton and EF Benson.
With such a rich literary tradition to draw on, I couldn’t resist setting a story of my own in Rye. Secrets on the Shore was especially inspired by a winter visit, when I stayed at The Mermaid Inn, sleeping in a bedroom that was supposed to be haunted. Though like Lil and Sophie, I saw no ghosts, I did find myself haunted by the idea for a new mystery featuring lonely marshes, boats lost in the fog, a crumbling ruined castle, sinister strangers, and of course, plenty of adventure…
If you ever find yourself visiting Rye, then make sure you pay a visit to The Mermaid Inn which also inspired the fictional Smuggler’s Rest in Secrets on the Shore. You can sit beside the roaring fire in the wonderfully-named Giant’s Bar, where you can look out for the hidden entrance to a real-life secret passage! Take a walk out past the ruins of old Camber Castle and along the shore to the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve where you can see all kinds of bird life, and you’ll see where Sophie and Lil carry our surveillance of the coast – and spot a spy or two.